Ranking the Premier League's Top 6 Central Defenders
For years, the Premier League has become synonymous with having some of the world’s finest talents and exponents of the game.
But for too long, praise has always favoured the attacking prowess for teams.
Defenders are often vilified for errors, red cards, clumsy tackles or the dreaded own goal, while they have to look on as their forward-playing teammates reap the rewards of success.
Now, though, defenders are becoming an increasingly important signing during the close season, and making sure you have four quality centre-backs is virtually a prerequisite for success in a season.
Here are the league’s top six defenders, each of whom were vital to their teams last season.
All statistics provided by Squawka.com
6. Ashley Williams
Physically dominant, robust and quick, Ashley Williams has what it takes to perform at the highest level of the game.
The balance struck between Williams and his centre-back partner Chico Flores has proved highly successful for Swansea. Whilst Chico plays the ball and has a bit more finesse to his game, Williams is the colossus that keeps strikers at bay.
On an average, he performs 15 defensive actions per game—when you consider that is almost double anyone else in this list, you see his influence and importance for the Welsh side.
Especially when you consider the fact he missed only one league game last season.
Captain of his country too, Williams is an uncompromising defender who takes games by the scruff of the neck and leads his team by example.
5. Phil Jagielka
Whether playing the ball on the deck or battling in an aerial dual, Phil Jagielka has got many assets to his game.
He can take on the burly, old-fashioned forwards who are happy to get into scrapes and tussles at every opportunity. But he can equally deal just as well with the more nimble strikers who might like to cut inside from wider positions or drop off deeper and utilize their whippet-like pace.
Jagielka has made the centre-back spot his own at Everton.
This, followed by a string of England performances, has strengthened his claim as one of the finest defenders in the league.
He uses his adaptability to make the best out of situations, applying a side to his game best suited to quell opposition threats as quickly as possible.
4. Gary Cahill
One of the more unassuming central defenders in the league, Gary Cahill has seamlessly slipped into the Chelsea back four and made the position his own.
With the constant furore surrounding defensive partners David Luiz and John Terry, Cahill has been instrumental in the steadying of what looked to be a sinking ship.
With a tendency for attacking football, the Blues often found themselves in compromising positions last season. But with Cahill’s pace and awareness of others around him, he nullified several opposition attacks.
His tackle success rate for the season just gone was a staggering 86 percent.
He is now first defender on the team sheet, with either Terry or Luiz partnering him.
3. Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny’s rise up the ranks at Arsenal has been impressive.
Hailing from the lower French leagues, he has since become the cornerstone of the Gunners back line, taking over the mantle from club captain Thomas Vermaelen.
His ability on the ball means he can play the ball out of defence whilst leaving Per Mertesacker to do the grittier work.
But possibly Koscielny’s greatest asset is his positional sense.
He has a blistering pace on the turn, which makes life for strikers incredibly difficult even when they have a yard on the French international.
He also weighs in with a few goals too; most notably last season was the pivotal goal he grabbed in the win over Newcastle, which clinched fourth spot for the Gunners.
2. Vincent Kompany
The Manchester City and Belgium captain has been a roaring success since he joined the Premier League. He led The Citizens to their first title in the modern era the season before last, and as a leader he has shown all the qualities of a world-class centre-back.
His reliability is one of his biggest qualities—he played 26 times in the league last season and in his performances 76.6 percent of his defensive actions were clearances. This is a clear demonstration that he is the last line of defence in a team that conceded just 34 goals last season—the best record of any team last term.
Kompany did have a few off-the-field problems with Roberto Mancini last season.
But since the Italian’s departure, he can now get back to matters on the field and trying to regain the title from bitter rivals Manchester United.
1. Jan Vertonghen
Hailing from the fabled Ajax academy, Vertonghen has football in his DNA.
The Tottenham defender made an instant impact during his maiden season in the Premier League. Making it into the team of the season, this was off the back of a host of dominating performances.
He sweeps up all before him but there is a certain elegance to his play, which makes it all look effortless.
But when the going gets tough, he doesn’t shy away from putting his foot in.
Vertonghen is also adaptable in his positioning.
He is best for Spurs when he is in the heart of the defence, but when called upon, as he was last season, he can play at left-back—making him virtually indispensable.
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